Answers To Your Workers' Comp & Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Doubt, uncertainty, and confusion can quickly cause painful situations to escalate into catastrophic traumas. Personal experience has taught us that when an accident victim allows his concerns to overwhelm his determination for justice, he neither gets relief nor justice. This is why we feel that getting answers to your injury questions are extremely important not only to relieve stress, but also to build a stronger injury claim. Allow us to address your concerns and come see for yourself how a simple answer can make a difference.
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Can I file a wrongful death claim if my loved one died in a train accident?
Possibly. Train accidents can be catastrophic and sadly, they happen far more often than most people realize.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), approximately 10,000 train-related accidents or serious incidents are reported to the Department of Transportation (DOT) each year. These include mechanical malfunctions, derailments, and collisions. These reported incidents result in thousands of injuries and roughly 700 deaths each year—some right here in Georgia.
Pursuing A Train Accident Injury Case
If you lost a loved one in a train crash caused by another person or company's negligence, you might have grounds to file a wrongful death claim that allows you to seek compensation for losses related to their death. However, Georgia law limits the ability to file a wrongful death claim to select individuals, such as the victim's surviving spouse, children, parents, or personal representative.
The surviving spouse has the first option to file a wrongful death claim, and must also represent the interests of any minor children of the couple. Additionally, in most cases, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of your loved one's death; otherwise, you risk forfeiting your right to pursue a legal remedy.
Types of Wrongful Death Suits
Wrongful death claimants in Georgia can bring two different types of suits: one to attempt to establish the full value of the victim's life, and another to compensate for financial losses related to their death.
Potential damages in the first kind of claim include lost wages and benefits the victim would have earned, as well as loss of care, companionship, and support for surviving family members. Common damages in the second type of claim include:
- Medical expenses incurred during the victim's final injury or illness
- Reasonable funeral and burial or cremation costs
- Pain and suffering the victim experienced before death
Consult an Experienced Attorney About Your Wrongful Death Case
No amount of compensation can replace a lost loved one, but a wrongful death settlement or financial award can help families gain closure and heal financially after an unexpected loss. If your loved one died in a negligence-related train accident, the knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you investigate your rights to compensation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Can my workers' compensation claim be denied if I lied about my medical history on a job application?
It's possible. Eager to be hired, some job hunters may gloss over previous injuries in their medical histories or overstate their physical abilities on applications.
While these deceptive tactics may help applicants get a wanted job, should they suffer a workplace injury, this misrepresentation of their medical conditions can jeopardize any future chances to collect workers' compensation benefits.
What Does Georgia Law Say About Lying?
Georgia workers' compensation laws allow employers to deny injury claims based on certain types of employee misconduct. This includes instances in which employees lie about their medical histories and then later suffer new injuries related to undisclosed or misstated conditions.
However, when using this defense to deny a worker's injury claim, employers must first prove the following:
- The employee in question knowingly and willingly falsely represented his or her physical condition during the application and hiring process
- The employer relied on the employee's false representation and it was a substantial factor in the hiring decision
- The falsely-represented past injury caused or contributed to the employee's workplace injury
Known as the “Rycroft defense,” it's designed to protect employers from undeserved liability for employee injuries. However, some employers may attempt to use this defense unjustly, resulting in the denial of valid workers' compensation claims.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
There's a lot at stake after an on-the-job injury. A skilled workers' compensation attorney can help injured employees understand their legal rights and options, help them avoid mistakes that could cause their claims to be denied, and ensure they're treated fairly by employers and their insurance companies.
If you were injured on the job, only to have your employer claim your injury was related to a misrepresentation in your application, the knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you build a strong case and fight for the workers' compensation benefits you need and deserve.
Do you have questions about a denied workers' compensation claim? Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation.
What is subrogation and how could it affect my workers' comp claim?
The short answer: subrogation is a process used by insurance companies to get back money paid on insurance claims. They're allowed to do this in some cases, but only after you've received full compensation for your workers' compensation injuries. Here's what you should know.
How Subrogation Works
If you were injured in an on-the-job construction accident, depending on the circumstances of the incident, you may have multiple avenues for compensation.
For example, if you were hurt in a work-related car accident, caused by a negligent third-party subcontractor making a delivery, you may have grounds for a workers' compensation claim against your employer, as well as a personal injury lawsuit against the liable third party.
Workers' compensation benefits include reasonably-related medical expenses, temporary total disability benefits, and permanent partial disability benefits, while personal injury lawsuits allow you to pursue a broader range of additional compensation, including your actual lost wages, pain and suffering, mental anguish, scarring or disfigurement, and more.
While there are numerous advantages to filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent third party, your employer's workers' compensation insurer may attempt recoup the money it paid to you in benefits using subrogation.
What The Employer Must Prove Before Taking Money Back
However, in Georgia, before an employer or its insurer can recover money on a subrogation claim, they must show that you were fully compensated for all your accident-related economic and non-economic losses. For injured workers whose financial recoveries are limited by a negligent third party's inadequate insurance policy limits, employers and their insurers are often unable to meet their burden of proof. When that happens, the employer/insurer is not entitled to any recovery on their subrogation claim. A skilled Georgia personal injury attorney with workers' compensation case experience can help ensure you receive all the compensation you're owed for your workplace injury.
Consult an Attorney About Your Workers' Compensation Case
If you were injured on the job by a third party and received compensation through workers' compensation and have a personal injury claim, you may subject to subrogation. The seasoned attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can review your case to determine if you were truly made whole, and fight for your right to retain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case.
Do I need a personal injury attorney to handle my truck accident claim?
While it's technically possible to handle your own truck accident insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, doing so would put you at a serious disadvantage. Commercial trucking companies and their drivers are often represented by a team of corporate lawyers whose primary job is to protect their clients' bottom lines by helping them avoid liability for accidents and injuries.
If you choose to handle your truck accident case by yourself, you risk being outmatched by savvy lawyers with years of experience.
Truck Accidents Cause Severe Injuries, And Huge Medical Bills
After a truck accident, you may be seriously injured, temporarily out of work, and unable to keep up with mounting accident-related medical debt.
Or even worse, if you lost a loved one in a tragic truck crash, you may be trying to manage your grief and navigate the complex wrongful death claims process at the same time.
Either way, with so much at stake, it's no time to go it alone.
What Can A Truck Injury Lawyer Do For You?
A skilled personal injury attorney hired to represent you in a truck accident case can:
- Level the playing field. Having an attorney discourages insurance corporations and fleet companies from attempting to push you around. With an attorney by your side, this communicates to the other parties you're taking the claim seriously—and so should they.
- Conduct a thorough investigation. Your attorney can gather evidence, interview witnesses, hire expert witnesses, and preserve and request evidence from the other party's defense team.
- Fight claims of shared liability. Insurance companies may claim you were partially responsible for the accident in order to reduce their financial responsibilities. An attorney can fight these defenses to prevent them from harming your ability to collect compensation for damages.
- Negotiate a fair settlement. Insurance companies and their lawyers often offer unfair, low-ball settlements to truck accident victims without legal counsel. An attorney can help you negotiate a settlement that meets your needs.
- Take your case to court, if necessary. In the event that a fair settlement can't be reached, an experienced personal injury attorney can take your case all the way to trial.
Consult a Skilled Personal Injury Attorney
If you were seriously hurt or lost a loved one in a Georgia truck accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, the seasoned attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you investigate your rights and options for compensation. Contact us today to request an appointment for a complimentary initial case consultation.
I was hit by a driver cited for a DUI. What happens now?
Drunk driving remains a serious problem in the United States. More than one million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in 2016 alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Statistics.
It's a frightening statistic, but what's even more shocking is these arrests make up just 1 percent of the 111 million episodes of alcohol-impaired driving self-reported by American adults each year.
Lawsuits Against DUI Drivers
If you were seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver cited for driving under the influence, or DUI, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, loss of income, pain and suffering, punitive damages, and other economic and non-economic losses.
However, even in accident cases involving DUIs, obtaining compensation is never a given.
Building a Strong Case Against a DUI Driver
Hurt in a DUI accident? Here's what you can do to build a strong personal injury case:
- Take photos and videos at the scene of the accident. Make sure to document the positioning of the involved vehicles, relevant road or weather conditions, property damage, and apparent injuries.
- Gather contact information and statements from people who witnessed the accident. It's especially helpful to get information from people who saw the intoxicated driver swerving or weaving before the crash; or staggering, slurring their words, or attempting to hide their intoxication after the accident.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don't think you're seriously injured. Adrenaline may mask the pain of certain injuries, and late-appearing injuries can take hours or even days to present themselves. Work closely with your doctor to ensure that your accident-related injuries are documented carefully and thoroughly.
- Consult a personal injury attorney. An attorney with experience handling personal injury cases against drunk drivers can help you understand your legal rights and options, and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Were You Injured in an Accident Caused by a Drunk Driver?
The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
What should I do if I need to see a specialist and there isn't one listed on my employer's panel of physicians?
After sustaining a serious injury on the job, it's understandable that injured workers would want access to care from the best doctors to treat their conditions. Unfortunately, when it comes to seeing a doctor, you're often limited to providers on your employer's approved panel of physicians.
While it's not impossible to see a specialist for a workplace injury, it does require jumping through a few hoops. Here's a look at the process.
Seeing an Authorized Doctor
Start by seeing a doctor from your employer's approved panel of physicians. In Georgia, the law specifies that these panels be comprised of at least six doctors, and include one orthopedic physician; no more than two industrial clinics; and at least one minority physician. The authorized doctor from the panel can refer you to a specialist, but they aren't always willing to do so.
If this happens, you still have a few options, including:
- Seeing a different doctor from the approved panel. You can switch to another doctor on the panel once without prior approval, and that physician could refer you to a specialist.
- Requesting an independent medical examination (IME). If it's been fewer than 120 days since you last received income benefits, you can request a one-time IME with any doctor of your choosing, and use that to schedule an appointment with a specialist.
- Presenting the IME report to your treating physician from the panel. After presenting the report, you can request to be referred to a specialist.
- Filing a request for a hearing seeking a change of physician. A workers' compensation attorney can help with this.
Sometimes, even if a doctor refers you to a specialist, your employer's workers' compensation insurance provider may decline to authorize the visit. This is particularly common for illnesses which are likely to require ongoing treatment, but for which there are no diagnostic tests to confirm progress. A prime example of this is psychiatric treatment.
Consult an Experienced Workers' Compensation Attorney
Are you struggling to obtain the medical care that you need after being injured in a workplace accident? The knowledgeable workers' compensation attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help. Contact us today to request an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Who can file a wrongful death claim in Georgia?
When a person is killed in a vehicle or other personal injury accident caused by the negligence of another person or entity, surviving family members may have grounds for a wrongful death claim. A common type of civil lawsuit, a wrongful death claim allows the victim's survivors to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages related to the death.
However, the law doesn't permit just anyone who was close to the victim to file a wrongful death claim. In Georgia, eligibility for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is limited to just a few individuals: the victim's surviving spouse, children, parents, or personal representative. The surviving spouse has the first option to file and, if the couple has minor children, the spouse must represent their interests as well.
Eligibility For Wrongful Death Claim
In the absence of a surviving spouse, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed by the victim's adult children, parents, or the representative of his or her estate. In cases where the wrongful death claim is filed by a personal representative rather than any of the forenamed family members, any compensation recovered must be held by the estate for the victim's next of kin.
Potential damages in Georgia wrongful death cases can include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, lost wages and benefits, loss of care and companionship, pain and suffering, and other considerations.
Did You Lose a Loved One in a Personal Injury Accident?
Losing a loved one is never easy, but finding out the death was because of someone else's negligence can be especially difficult. It's heartbreaking, and definitely not fair. While no amount of money can replace your loved one or fill the hole left in your life, a financial award from the at-fault party can help bring closure and make sure you and your family are taken care of—just like your beloved relative would have wanted.
The experienced attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak help numerous wrongful death claimants receive the compensation they need and deserve after their tragic losses. If you have questions about a wrongful death case, we'd love to answer them, and help you understand your legal rights and options. Call our office using any of the convenient numbers on this page, or complete the brief online contact form to request a free initial consultation.
What damages are available for a personal injury claim in Georgia?
After being seriously injured in a Georgia car collision, truck crash, motorcycle wreck, or other personal injury accident caused by someone else's negligence, victims may be entitled to pursue a wide range of damages.
Two Types of Damages
These damages are usually divided into two main types: special damages and general damages.
Also known as economic damages, special damages compensate personal injury victims for quantifiable financial losses stemming from the
accident in question. Examples include:
- Medical bills
- Future accident-related medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity, if applicable
While special damages compensate victims for quantifiable losses, general damages (or non-economic damages) deal with losses that can't be neatly measured, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental and emotional anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Additionally, in cases where the at-fault party's conduct was particularly egregious, a third type of damages may be available. Known as punitive damages, they're intended to punish the at-fault party for wrongdoing and deter similar actions, rather than compensate the victim for an economic or non-economic loss.
What If My Family Member Died As A Result Of An Accident?
If a personal injury victim dies as a result of their injuries, their surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for special and general damages related to their loved one's death. Wrongful death damages may include reasonable funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial contribution, the family's emotional suffering, and other relatable forms of compensation.
If you were seriously injured in a Georgia personal injury accident, the knowledgeable attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you explore your options for compensation. We can advise you regarding which types of damages may be available in your case. Use the convenient contact information on this page to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.
Who's liable when a driver hits a pedestrian who was distracted while texting?
The dangers associated with distracted driving are better known, but many people don't realize that distracted walking can also have serious consequences.
Distracted walking accidents and injuries are on the rise, according to the National Safety Council. Pedestrians who text, play mobile games, or surf online while walking are most at risk.
Pedestrian accidents are also on the rise, as noted by the Governors Highway Safety Association in its 2016 and 2017 reports, and distracted walking—particularly texting while walking—may be at least partially to blame.
When pedestrians are struck by vehicles, the injuries they sustain can be absolutely devastating.
Even in cases where the driver was traveling at a relatively slow speed, victims may require extensive medical care and time off from work. Pedestrian accident victims may be entitled to compensation from the driver who hit them. However, if the pedestrian was distracted and texting at the time of the accident, he or she may share in liability, which could potentially affect their financial recovery.
Fortunately, Georgia is a comparative negligence state. This means personal injury victims may still be entitled to compensation, even if they were partially responsible for their accidents and injuries. Georgia courts use modified comparative negligence rules, which allow for personal injury claimants to collect damages if they were up to 49 percent responsible for the accidents in which they were injured.
Consult an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney
If you were seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, but are worried that your role in what happened may affect your ability to recover compensation, it's vitally important that you understand your legal rights and options.
The knowledgeable pedestrian accident attorneys with Rechtman & Spevak can help you build a strong case and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case analysis.
How do employers choose their panel of workers' compensation doctors?
In Georgia, employees injured on the job may be entitled to medical, rehabilitation, and income benefits under the state's Workers' Compensation Law. Workers' compensation covers a wide range of authorized medical expenses, including doctor bills and hospital bills.
However, unless a worker's injuries are emergent in nature, their employer is unlikely to cover medical care provided by just any doctor.
Instead, in most cases, the injured employee is required to choose a physician from the employer's panel of workers' compensation doctors.
Doctor Panel Requirements
By law, this panel must:
- Be comprised of six unaffiliated doctors or clinics
- Include at least one orthopedic surgeon
- Have no more than two industrial clinics
- Include at least one minority doctor, based on ethnicity or gender
The doctors on this panel are chosen by the employer, often in consultation with its insurer. Additionally, employers can review the performance of the doctors on their panel and change them if they don't live up to their expectations.
The ability to choose and change the doctors on the panel is good for employers and insurers, as it gives them some measure of control over who's treating individuals who are injured on-the-job and, ultimately, how the claim is handled.
Why This Isn't Always Good For The Injured Worker
Unfortunately, this can be detrimental for injured workers. While some employers may choose well-qualified physicians who treat workers fairly, others may opt for doctors with reputations for keeping costs down by:
- Minimizing workers' injuries
- Failing to relate some or all of the injured worker's complaints to their on-the-job accident
- Recommending low-cost treatment options, even if higher-cost treatments are more effective
- Returning injured workers to work with restrictions too quickly
- Assigning a low permanent impairment rating
- Releasing injured workers from their care and sending them back to their regular job prematurely
Fortunately, knowledgeable attorneys with experience handling workers compensation cases can help injured workers choose a doctor from the panel who is more likely to listen to their concerns and treat them fairly. If you are dissatisfied with the treatment being provided by your treating physician, your attorney may be able to get your care transferred to a new doctor. Under Georgia law, you are entitled to a one-time change to another doctor on the employer's panel of physicians without obtaining prior approval.
Were You Injured on the Job?
Rechtman & Spevak is committed to helping injured Georgia workers receive the workers' compensation benefits they need and deserve. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation with one of our workers' compensation attorneys.